Video Friday: Small Bebionic Hand, RoboRaven at Night, and Pepper on Sale

Photo: Bebionic

For some reason, companies making robotic prosthetics have mostly focused on designing systems for men. This could be because they have to design them for someone, and men are a reasonable place to start.

But women need prosthetics too. As do children, and for that matter, dudes who aren’t built like linebackers. The Bebionic small hand has been downsized by 30 percent to the size of an average woman’s hand, without sacrificing any strength or functionality. See it in action, plus more videos because Friday.

Bebionic small hand works using sensors triggered by the user’s muscle movements tha connect to individual motors in each finger and powerful microprocessors. The technology comprises a unique system which tracks and senses each finger through its every move – mimicking the functions of a real hand.

  • Weighs approximately 390g – the same as a large bar of Galaxy chocolate
  • 165mm from base to middle fingertip – the size of an average woman’s hand
  • Strong enough to handle up to 45kg – around the same as 25 bricks
  • 14 grip patterns and hand positions to allow a range of precision movements
  • Contains 337 mechanical parts 

[ Bebionic Small Hand ]


Pepper, the friendly humanoid(ish) robot from Aldebaran Robotics and Softbank, is as of tomorrow officially on sale to the public for about US $1,600. It’s a crazy low price, and in fact, Pepper costs more than this to build, but if you subscribe to the interactive voice recognition (a cloud service) and other mandatory maintenance fees, you’ll end up paying about $200 a month, which is where Softbank is hoping that they’ll be able to eventually make some money. 

[ Pepper ] via [ AP ]


We got a chance to watch National Geographic’s Robots 3D movie at ICRA, and some of you maybe caught one of the screenings at the DRC Finals. If not, it’s actually pretty good, with a totally respectable treatment of some of the challenges that robotics faces that’s amusing enough that you could take some family or friends to be like, “hey, this is why what I do is hard.” Here’s a preview:

[ Robots 3D ]


The ludicriously named KUKA KR 120 R2100 nano F has been designed specifically to work in wet environments that would cause other robots to melt:

[ KUKA ]


ABB is now building robots in Michigan. Or, parts of robots. But they’re going to scale up to actual robots.

[ ABB ]


You know what real birds don’t have? Spotlights for night flying. This is why Robo Raven V is better than real birds:

[ UMD Robotics ]

The University of Maryland also has a bunch of other cool robotics stuff going on:

In the University of Maryland's Autonomy Robotics Cognition Lab (ARC Lab), quadcopters perform synchronized aerial maneuvers using only basic onboard sensors and cameras rather than external motion-tracking cameras. The experimenters follow model-based systems engineering methods to create modular software that can autonomously launch, fly and land multiple aircraft. The methods also allow the quadcopters to respond to cues in the environment.

[ ARC Lab ]


We’re going to restrict ourselves to just one single DARPA Robotics Challenge video this week. The first is from KAIST, which is interesting because it shows a bunch of footage from their test course, which, as you can see, was substantially harder than some of the DRC Finals.

[ KAIST DRC ]


The 2015 UAE Drones for Good Award Finals took place at a purpose-built venue in Dubai's Internet City. More than 30 semi-finalists showcased their designs, but the winner of the US$1million prize was by a Swiss company called Flyability. Their collision averse rescue drone was an innovative solution to some of the challenges of the modern world.

[ UAE Drones for Good ]


SparkFun’s totally awesome Autonomous Vehicle Competition is tomorrow! It’s outdoors, for ground vehicles, which have to avoid obstacles and get a bonus for being clever enough to not use GPS. There are four different classes:

  • Micro/PBR - Less than $350 total spent, or small enough to fit into box that's 10"x6"x4"
  • Doping Class - Bring the biggest, baddest and most expensive vehicle you can make ($1k+ or 25lbs+)
  • Non-Traditional Locomotion - Have a walker? A modified autonomous self-balancing pogostick? A motorized hamster ball? This designation is for you.
  • Peloton - All remaining vehicles that don't fit into any other class

A modified autonomous self-balancing pogostick. Yes. A thousand times yes. Here’s a video from last year. There’s no pogostick in it.

[ SparkFun AVC ]


Vijay Kumar’s group at GRASP Lab is presenting some very interesting work on precision agriculture in Sweden at the IEEE International Conference on Automation Science and Engineering:

“Devices, Systems, and Methods for Automated Monitoring enabling Precision Agriculture”

Addressing the challenges of feeding the burgeon- ing world population with limited resources requires innovation in sustainable, efficient farming. The practice of precision agriculture offers many benefits towards addressing these challenges, such as improved yield and efficient use of such resources as water, fertilizer and pesticides. We describe the design and development of a light-weight, multi-spectral 3D imaging device that can be used for automated monitoring in precision agriculture. The sensor suite consists of a laser range scanner, multi-spectral cameras, a thermal imaging camera, and navigational sensors. We present techniques to extract four key data products—plant morphology, canopy volume, leaf area index, and fruit counts—using the sensor suite. We demonstrate its use with two systems: multi-rotor micro aerial vehicles and on a human-carried, shoulder-mounted harness. We show results of field experiments conducted in collaboration with growers and agronomists in vineyards, apple orchards and orange groves.

[ GRASP Lab ]


Not a super long Video Friday this week, so we’ll end with two more panels from WeRobot 2015:

Panel 4: “Regulating Healthcare Robots”

Panel 5: “Law and Ethics of Telepresence Robots”

[ WeRobot 2015 ]

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Automaton

IEEE Spectrum’s award-winning robotics blog, featuring news, articles, and videos on robots, humanoids, drones, automation, artificial intelligence, and more.
Contact us:  e.guizzo@ieee.org

Editor
Erico Guizzo
New York City
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